The city of Sofia is often overlooked as a destination for a short and sweet city break. However, the capital of ex-Communist Bulgaria is a top spot for history enthusiasts and food fanatics alike. The city combines Brutalist Soviet-era architecture with the intricate design flourishes of Ottoman mosques, making it a visually stunning destination. Business Destinations has identified where to go to make the most of a trip to Sofia.
Where to stay:
Sense Hotel is a member of the Design Hotels collection and showcases the group’s flair for clean lines and modern finishes. Surrounded by some of the city’s most historically important architecture, the hotel’s sleek façade breaks unapologetically with tradition. Its premier feature is the rooftop bar on the ninth floor, which provides panoramic views of the city and Sofia’s Vitosha Mountain. A four-minute walk from the Russian Church, the hotel also features a spa and an indoor pool.
What to eat:
Sofia has plenty of delectable local food options. In summer, tarator, a cold yoghurt soup, is a must; fresh cucumbers, yoghurt, walnuts and dill combine to make a refreshing starter. The traditional shkembe chorba, a tripe soup, may be a little too robust for some, but it does double up as a pungent hangover cure. Banitsa is a local favourite, made by layering filo pastry with cheese, eggs and yoghurt: Bulgarian comfort food at its best. HleBar, an independent bakery, is renowned for its version of the pastry.
Places to drink:
Sofia hosts a buzzing local nightlife. Highlights include One More Bar, which has become popular with locals looking to enjoy a drink, and Motto, where traditional Bulgarian food meets stylish design. Once the sun has set, Motto becomes a bar and nightclub; floor-to-ceiling windows look out over the terrace and garden and illuminate the pop-art-inspired décor. The extensive menu should please cocktail lovers and draft beer enthusiasts alike, with plenty of wines on offer too.
The must see:
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
While Sofia boasts an array of historical treasures, the iconic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, set high above the town, trumps them all. The cross-domed basilica is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. The cathedral was built as a monument to the soldiers who died securing Bulgaria’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. Its stunning original frescoes feature gold leaf, as do the outer domes. Other opulent design features use Italian marble and Brazilian onyx.